Here’s a little feature I produced for Motorsport Illustrated News magazine (USA) from pre-season testing in Estoril in March. Enjoy!
Arden fields three extremely quick guys in 2014: Romanian Robert Visoiu, Swiss Patric Niederhauser (both raced in GP3 last year) and (Nissan Academy driver) Jann Mardenborough, a GP3 rookie from Great Britain. I caught up with them to ask a few questions…
MIN (to Jann): Unlike your team-mates, you’ve got limited experience in karting and a somewhat untraditional racing background – could that be a bonus and how do you rate your chances in GP3 in 2014?
JM: A lot of preparation is going into this season in GP3. Nissan have already sent me to do a winter championship in New Zealand to keep me sharp for the start of testing coming up. I went down to Arden Motorsport to meet the team and get to know the engineers and use their simulator to get a feel for the new changes this year in GP3. Also the Infiniti Red Bull F1 simulator is being used to prepare for the season coming up. Fitness training and camps have been done, so I’m 100% ready when I jump in the car.
Nothing beats seat time. But the training at Nissan GT Academy is doing a great job at shortening that deficit with a lot of simulation. My team-mates are both in their 3rd year in GP3. It’s a perfect environment for me as they have great experience with this current car and the tyres which are unique. I’d like to think we’d be challenging for podiums throughout the season, we have to wait for the first round!
MIN: Did Robert or Patric give you any particular advice on how to handle the GP3 car and the tyres?
JM: The team and my team-mates gave me advice on the car and tyres. The car is slightly different from last year with more front downforce and less rear downforce, also the compound is harder, so we the drivers and team are finding what’s best for future testing.
MIN (to Robert): How were you preparing for the GP3 season ahead and Estoril test in particular?
RV: I’ve been really determined in preparing for this season, both physically and mentally. I have to do my best to be able to win and in such a strong competition, so preparation is very important. I’ve done all the steps I could in order to be fit for the season and I believe I’m ready: stronger and more focused than in the past.
MIN: The team produced two champions over the last 2 years, with one of them already in Formula1 – does this put extra pressure on you? Are you going for the title in GP3 this season?
RV: Driving for a championship winning team means I have all the tools I need to do my job well and to perform. I am here to fight for the title and working with professionals is the only way to be able to fulfill my ambition. The pressure of fighting in such a strong championship can only motivate me to do well. I wouldn’t be a racing driver had I thought otherwise.
MIN (to Patric): Tell us a little bit about your preparations for the season?
PN: I went to the team’s workshop before Estoril test to make a new seat and get fitted in my new car. We discussed also the test plan and did some simulator work. For me it is also important to know all the engineers, mechanics and the whole stuff behind the scene so, I’ve had the chance to get familiar already.
MIN: Were you going through any specific procedures with the new team in Estoril today and how’s been your adaption to Arden so far?
PN: For sure there will be specific procedures but these are the same as for any event. We were able to work together alongside the post-season tests last November in Abu Dhabi so I know already how they work thought there will still be many new things for me. Anyway, Arden made already a great job in preparing me for the test and fitting me into their team. I feel very well in the team and now I can’t wait to get it started.